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Mar 292017

Before starring in the various Edgar Allan Poe based movies, Vincent Price has starred in many other horror features. One such film was the original version of House of Wax (1953). Unlike the House of Wax remake about college teens in the woods, this movie takes place in 1890s New York. Professor Henry Jarrod (Vincent Price) is a talented wax figure sculptor that specializes in historical figures like John Wilkes Booth, Joan of Arc, Marie Antoinette, and Marc Antony for his museum. Jarrod also talks to them like they were real people.

Although Jarrod prefers the beauty and artistic integrity, his business partner Matthew Burke (Roy Roberts) is more focused on the profits and demands more sensational exhibits. Jarrod provides an opportunity for an art critic, Sidney Wallace (Paul Cavanagh), to buy Burke out, but Burke decides to burn the museum down to claim the insurance money. What a shame, those were such nice wax figures destroyed by corruption.

Shortly after, a cloaked and disfigured killer is on the loose killing people and even stealing their bodies. The killer looks a lot like Jarrod, but is it really him? That leaves some mystery.

Apparently, Jarrod did survive the fire, but his hands are disfigured and he’s confined to a wheelchair. He reopens his museum but focuses on historical crimes and recent murders, though it seems out of character. The part that stands out most is when Jarrod provides smelling salts for the women who pass out during the tour. That’s so funny.

Here’s something interesting. This movie has an intermission in the middle. In the old days they had those, even when the movies were on home video. No movies have had that in years and that’s a good thing since it’s so annoying.

House of Wax was also in 3-D, but the only 3-D moment I could find here was when a greeter (Reggie Rymal) uses his paddleballs while announcing the exhibits in the museum out front to get customers to come inside.

Jarrod also reveals that he uses models to create the faces of his wax figures like the face of recent murder victim Cathy Gray (Carolyn Jones). I liked her perky persona.

The only one that’s suspicious is Cathy’s friend Sue Allen (Phyllis Kirk). Part of it could include how the killer keeps coming after her, or maybe it’s something more, despite Jarrod’s thorough explanations about how the art is done.

This was a good movie. Sometimes it’s nice to look back on the original version of a movie after seeing the remake, though I must point out that the two versions are hardly alike at all. Which do you prefer?

May 302012

The Addams Family – The Complete Series (1964-1966) is not exactly your typical household. Inside a spooky mansion near the cemetery resides the wealthy and highly enthusiastic Gomez Addams (John Astin), his lovely wife Morticia (Carolyn Jones), and their two children Pugsley (Ken Weatherwax) and Wednesday (Lisa Loring).

The Addams Family are best known for their unique outlook on life. They see things like torture devices and man-eating plants to be normal and nice things like flowers and cute puppies to be alarming, which is the exact opposite of everyone else’s outlook. However, the Addamses are always hospitable in their own way, no matter who their houseguests are. Too bad it always sends them running, leaving the Addamses puzzled.

Other relatives living at the mansion are Grandmama (Blossom Rock) a witch who can conjure up spells and potions, and Uncle Fester (Jackie Coogan) who has the ability to power a light bulb with his mouth. He’s a bit eccentric, but a likeable character.

On a side note: When Uncle Fester comes to mind, I tend to think of the NES game Fester’s Quest, which is about Uncle Fester fighting aliens from outer space with a plunger shaped gun and other items provided by other Addams family members. Sorry, but Uncle Fester doesn’t fight aliens on this show. Fester does have a gun, but he never uses it except for when he threatens to shoot people in the back. He prefers that instead of a fair duel.

I’d have to say that one of my most favorite characters is Lurch (Ted Cassidy) the butler. He always speaks in a bass tone and never shows any personality. Lurch is usually summoned with a bell pull that looks like a hangman’s noose, then he casually arrives and responds with his famous catchphrase, “You rang?” The bell is always so loud it shakes the room, yet no one is affected. That’s why it’s so hilarious whenever it’s mentioned that Lurch can hardly hear it.

Although Lurch hardly speaks and has super strength and a somewhat frightening appearance, he does have a sentimental side also, which mostly shows when Lurch plays his harpsichord. He sure does enjoy it.

And let’s certainly not forget Thing the family pet. He’s a living hand that appears out of boxes and other containers. Thing is always willing to lend a hand for anyone. (Pun intended.) However, I never realized that Thing was actually a disembodied hand until I saw the first Addams Family movie, when he’s not always contained.

On occasion, Cousin Itt (Felix Silla) visits the Addams household. He’s a hairy creature that’s a total genius and always speaks in speedy gibberish. Surprisingly, the Addamses can understand Itt efficiently.

The Addamses have many relatives. In later episodes, one of the more common family members that visit (other than Cousin Itt) is Morticia’s older sister Ophelia (Carolyn Jones), but only when she has relationship troubles and Ophelia is unlucky in love. Could it be because of the daises in her hair that are rooted deep down into her legs? Or maybe it’s because she uses her judo too harshly? And to think that Gomez was originally set up to marry Ophelia in an arranged marriage. He made the right decision to marry Morticia instead.

I must admit that this show is still hilarious after all these years. Recently at Spooky Empire’s MAY-HEM 2012, I met several of the cast members. Check my blog for part 2 to find out more.

Jul 132011

Welcome back. As you’re all aware, Batman and Robin are top crime fighters and can handle any male criminal in Gotham City. Of course, there are also female criminals, but to go up against them requires a different approach.

Every gang of villains always has at least one female member and she never gets involved in the fight scenes. Even if the main villain is a female, like Cat Woman, she never fights her own battles. That slightly changes when Batgirl comes along.

According to a Batman reunion special on The Will Shriner Show back in 1987 (courtesy of YouTube), Yvonne Craig (Batgirl) explained that the stunts for the fight scenes on the show were different for women because of the risk of getting hurt by the punches.

Fans of the original series might have noticed that no enemy ever tries to punch out Batgirl and she only attacks with a kick to the head. Still, none of the female villains even try to fight Batgirl. Could it be because they’re scared of Batgirl’s kicks messing up their pretty faces?

Well anyway, here are some of some of those colorful villainesses. There aren’t very many and they don’t include Poison Ivy or Harley Quinn, unfortunately.

Marsha the Queen of Diamonds (Carolyn Jones): This dangerous dame uses love darts dipped in a love potion to make men fall in love with her to the point that they’ll do anything for her, and I mean anything. Marsha doesn’t care about love, only diamonds and worship. Even if a man tells Marsha that he would die for her, she would only reply with a yawn. Now that’s just cold.

Black Widow (Tellulah Bankhead): Don’t be fooled by her charms, this spider villainess is crafty. She uses hypnosis, drugs, and artificial brain stimuli to control her victims. Her biggest focus is bank managers, who she uses to rob the banks without anyone noticing. I must admit, Black Widow runs short of my expectations as a criminal. A name like that usually means, “Husband killer”. She isn’t like that, but can still be as dangerous as a spider.

The Siren (Joan Collins): This wicked temptress has a voice like no other. With only a single note, which is two decibels above High C, she can control men’s minds easily. It’s unknown how Siren a.k.a. Lorelei Circe got that skill, but it sure is loud and deadly.

Ma Parker (Shelley Winters): Believe it or not, she is one of the toughest criminals Batman and Robin have ever gone up against. Ma Parker is clever, crafty, and can charm her way out of any situation. She isn’t really a temptress per se, but comes off as a sweet and motherly old lady. Of course, she always keeps a machinegun handy, just in case.